Ora Lorraine Tigner couldn't figure out any scenario that would end with her still being alive.

Two weeks ago - from 3 p.m. March 2 to 6:40 a.m. March 3 - the 48-year-old south-side Des Moines woman was held captive in her home by ex-boyfriend, Richard Yazell, 50. She said he repeatedly beat her on the head and arms with a baseball bat, fracturing them, and then tried to tie them in electrical cord. She broke the glass out of a window to escape, but he caught up with her and beat her more.

Tigner spoke last week from her room at Broadlawns Medical Center where a hospital spokeswoman said she was being treated for "pain control related to multiple fractures." She sat in a wheelchair, both arms and hands in splints, bandaged. An IV line was set up on one arm for morphine.

For several hours after the attack, Tigner said, she lay on the floor, blood oozing from her head, finally talking Yazell into "letting me die on my bed."

She recalls: "I laid in bed all night. He sat in a chair. He kept turning the flashlight on and off, saying, 'Why won't you die, bitch!' " At one point she tried to move toward the window again, but he pushed her back. He told her, "I'm going to have to finish you off." She begged him not to hit her again.

Tigner said she and Yazell had been together on and off for 15 years, but had not lived together since 2008. He had been violent with her before, but never to this extent, she said.

Her last no-contact order expired in October. She allowed him to come back to her house a couple of weeks earlier to collect his belongings, stored in her garage. The house is in foreclosure, and she has until April 15 to vacate. She lost her job six months ago at a self-storage company, where she had worked for two years.

But after getting what Tigner called a foot in the door, Yazell didn't leave. She said while she was out looking for a job every day, he hung around, expecting her to support him. That Tuesday morning he became enraged because she had been at a male friend's place. They argued about his wanting her to get him money for cigarettes. Then, she said, "He flipped on me. I told him I was calling 911, and I moved to do it."

In the past, that was enough to get him to back off, Tigner said. This time, he returned with a baseball bat and used it to whack her head from behind.

She said he even locked her dog in a bedroom with enough water and food for three days -until, she assumed, someone found her body.

In the morning, when he saw her battered body and face by daylight, he became remorseful and apologetic, told her he loved her and called 911, Tigner said through tears. Then he went to the garage.

When police arrived, they found Yazell there, hanging. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and charged with attempted murder, but died last week. Tigner was taken to Mercy Medical Center where, according to her chart, she had numerous injuries, including extensive head and facial lacerations, multiple bruises and swelling in her right hand and eye, fractures in her left wrist and right hand, and pain in her abdomen, neck, arm and back. She said she had 29 staples to the back of her head and nine stitches in her forehead.

She was discharged after two nights because staff said there was no medical reason for her to stay. But, unable to feed or dress herself because her arms and hands were immobilized, and traumatized by the thought of returning to the bloodied house where the attack took place, Tigner had new problems.

She couldn't go to a nursing home, Mercy social worker Natalie Hite told her, because she would be required to pay privately, which she couldn't afford, and she would not qualify for Medicaid.

Both Tigner and her sister, Jennie Beery, who is a nurse at Broadlawns, are angry Tigner was released in what they consider her compromised state. Beery said Tigner couldn't manipulate the phone to call 911 if she needed to, couldn't do personal care, cook or even get a drink of water on her own. Beery lives in Indianola, where they grew up, is gone from the house all day and couldn't take care of her sister.

"Surgically she had nothing wrong with her," responded Candy Davey, the Mercy nurse who cared for Tigner. "Her head lacerations were dry and stable. She was very mobile."

"She clinically was in a condition where she could leave the facility and that was determined by the physicians who examined her, and her ability to walk on her own," said Mercy spokesman Gregg Lagan. Hite told Tigner she could either return home or stay at a shelter, and the hospital could set up visits with a nurse, home health aide and occupational therapist. To Mercy's credit, it did follow through on those offers and says she could get the services at reduced or no cost if she applies.

Tigner asked a friend to come and get her. But her need for care was constant, and more than what the friend could handle, even with the services the hospital arranged. Tigner said her blood pressure spiked, and she woke up with an eye swollen shut. Beery says she was suffering memory loss.

She went into Broadlawns March 7, was given two units of blood, and has been there since.

Much has been written about the physical and psychological costs of domestic violence. Tigner's ordeal also shows the enormous financial toll it takes not just on the victims but on public services such as police and emergency rescue squads, hospitals and nonprofits, families and friends.

Tigner may be released from Broadlawns today. She expects to be paying hospital bills the rest of her life.

But at least Tigner is alive to see her 49th birthday, which is today.

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